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Advocacy Group Urges Parents to Send Test Opt-Out Letters on First Day of School

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As parents get their kids ready to head back to school next week many are sending them back to class with a letter telling schools their child will not be taking state standardized exams.

The parent and student advocacy group, NYS Allies for Public Education, is urging parents to send opt-out letters with their children on the first day of school to curtail “teaching to the test” during the coming school year.

Standardized testing has prompted outrage among parents, students, teachers, and administrators. This year, 20 percent of children boycotted the third through eighth-grade math and English tests associated with the Common Core learning standards.

Now State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia is talking about how to encourage parents to have their students take the tests.

Jessica McNair, a parent and member of Allies for Public Education, says parents should send the opt-out letters now to thwart attempts to push educators to teach to the tests. McNair says, “When parents submit their refusal letters at the start of the school year, they let the school know that they reject a test-centered experience and instead support a rich diverse experience where learning can be assessed in a timely, meaningful and developmentally appropriate manner.”

McNair pushed back against Elia’s efforts to coax parents into having their kids take the tests.

According to McNair,  “Parents are also submitting their refusal letters at the start of the school year because they are discouraged by the tone set by new Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia. While Elia attempts to blame schools for failing to educate parents on why tests are important, the truth is that parents already know that the tests do not provide meaningful feedback and are instead used to take local control away from the schools they know and trust. Opting out now lets Elia know that we will remain steadfast in our opposition to the Regents reform agenda.”

One the complaints is that tests are used to evaluate teacher performance.

Commissioner Elia acknowledged that the tests need to be revised. The state is working with a new company to revise the exams. Teachers will have more say in the new tests, but the new tests won’t be ready until next year.

For more information on the opt movement or to download a copy of the opt-out letter, log on at nysape.org.

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